Boxing: Lewis receives ultimatum

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THE power struggle muddling - not to say muddying - the world heavyweight picture took another confusing turn yesterday when Lennox Lewis was informed that he would have to renounce the World Boxing Council version of the title in order to fight Riddick Bowe.

Rock Newman, the manager of the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion, said that the only way his client would entertain a fight with Lewis would be for the Briton 'to renounce the very garbage belt he has around his waist right now', a thinly veiled reference to Bowe's decision to relinquish the WBC title by casting the belt into a London garbage can.

Newman insisted that he had originally made two lucrative offers for Lewis to face Bowe in either the first or second defence of the latter's then undisputed title. The Lewis camp, however, has repeatedly described the financial package as insulting and Michael Dokes will now be Bowe's first challenger, in New York on 6 February.

'As opposed to winning the title in the ring,' Newman continued, 'Lewis decided to be top cat and go into the garbage can to get the belt. To hell with Lennox Lewis. They (Lewis's handlers) decided that Lennox Lewis was not ready to fight Riddick Bowe yet. They know that Riddick Bowe has emerged as the premier fighter in the world.'

Newman confirmed, meanwhile, that he has had discussions with the former champion, Evander Holyfield, whom Bowe deposed last year. Having revoked his initial decision to retire, Holyfield may now meet Bowe in the autumn.

One British boxer, Herbie Hyde, did manage to tie up a deal yesterday. The Norwich prospect will face the Latin American champion, Juan Antonio Diaz from Argentina, at Brentwood on 30 January, when the vacant WBA Penta-Continental crown will be at stake. Diaz replaces the Canadian champion, Danny Stonewalker, whom the British Boxing Board of Control had refused to sanction as a suitable opponent.